Monday morning, and I was ready on time. Congratulating myself, I sipped the orange juice contentedly while checking email on my mobile. I sat on a slender but comfortable cane chair, with my back to the window that opens onto the small and cute balcony, a rarity in Mumbai flats. Outside the week expanded out in its soothing routine- a raddiwala cycled past asking for old newspapers, a wife bade goodbye to her husband, a neighbor admonished the car-cleaner to wash his car first, hurried footsteps rattled down the stairs, a few birds chirped, a car honked, an auto stuttered, a couple of security guards chattered animatedly.
I glanced at my watch, exited the email menu and gulped the last of the juice. Getting up, I placed the mobile on my top pocket, picked up the empty glass and with my other free hand, I inserted the little finger in my left ear to clear an irritation I felt.
Everything faded into silence. Or rather smothered by a dreary drone. It took a few seconds to comprehend the full impact. My left ear seemed blocked as if someone had shoved in a huge ball of cotton. The right one was fine. I would have ignored it, but the blockage’s irritation swept aside any sense of patience. I understood what had happened- ear wax must have got pushed into the canal.
Hurriedly, I dropped the empty glass into the kitchen sink, grabbed the laptop, swooped on the car keys and rushed out of home.
There is a chemist shop right below my apartment building. It usually opens early but today for some strange reason grim shutters greeted me.
I ran to my car, with the irritating blocked ear heavily feeling like a lead earring. I knew of a 24 hour chemist shop half a kilometre away.
Not trusting the volume of my own voice, I whispered for ear buds.
Back in the car, I ripped open the box, and pulled out an ear bud, while quickly reading the warning and instructions on the wrapper.
The buds provided no relief. I had to see a doctor!
While swiftly typing a ‘ I will be late ‘ sms to my boss, I tried to recall where I had seen a signage of an ENT specialist. I couldn’t remember. I slowly drove down the road, taking in all the doctor boards, ignoring the irritated horns of irate drivers behind me, the upside being I couldn’t really hear them in full blast.
Lots of dentists, a few general practitioners, a couple of gynaecs, but I couldn’t find any ENT specialist.
I stopped at another chemist and asked for one. He gave the address of a doctor, not far off, but with the Metro construction on in full swing, and the traffic at its peak hour, it took me an arduous fifteen-minutes to reach. Only to be met by a cheerless receptionist, eating sprouted dal, sitting in an eerily empty office.
‘I wish to see the doctor,’ I said.
‘He’s not in. He will come at 11.30’ she replied with a more than obvious disinterest in her job. She wouldn’t care or bother if he never came.
My heart sank.
‘Is there any other ENT doctor nearby’
Clearly this didn’t go down well with her. Curtly she said, ‘Idea nahi hai’ and went back to her sprouted dal.
Dejected, I stepped out. Opposite, there was an obesity clinic, and an eager looking youngster viewed me hopefully. Sorry buddy, I’m not your client. Not yet, at least.
Thereafter, for next one hour, my search for a suitable doctor began. Actually, not suitable. Any doctor.
Downed shutters and similar looking dour receptionists gave me similar answers.
What the hell??!? Don’t doctors wake up early here? Are they like just any other businessmen opening their shops at a leisurely pace. Mine was a small problem, but what if I had a genuinely serious emergency? I would have been dead by the time I found a medico in his shop…err, clinic. And it wasn’t that early either. It was nearing 10.30, dammit. And surely, dentist and cosmetic dentistry is damn lucrative business seeing the number of available clinics in this supposedly posh colony. I reckon, the rich have their own set of diseases. And convenient timings when they get afflicted.
Angry and frustrated, I started for office, with the faint hope of stopping en route at a newly inaugurated (by Amitabh Bachchan, no less) multi-speciality hospital and finding an ENT surgeon there at least. If not, any doctor would do who could fish out the damn wax obstinately stuck in the ear and giving immense discomfort.